You have read the prospectus, you have done your research and now you are making the (sometimes) long journey to a medical school for an open day. Whilst you can learn a lot about a medical school and an area from a prospectus, there are likely to be some questions you still have which are best answered by the medical school themselves. Although visiting open days are not compulsory, they can certainly be helpful when applying to medical school. In this article, we present five questions which you should consider asking whilst at a medical school open day to get a better idea about the university and the course as a whole.
Question 1: How is the course delivered?
A question which is likely to be partly answered in the prospectus but those answers do not often give you the full story. Ask the university staff about the balance between clinical and lecture contact time. If you are someone who wants to be involved with patients from the get-go, then a lecture-heavy course may not be for you. Most universities now adopt an ‘integrated’ teaching style for their medical students but there is a lot of variety between how these courses are delivered. Take some time to consider whether the course delivery will suit you.
Question 2: What accommodation options are available for medical students whilst they are at university?
Usually your first year at medical school will be on campus in university accommodation. However, it can be helpful to ask the medical school about the destinations of medical students in their second year and beyond as this may give you more of an idea of your living situation for your later medical school years. For example, your medical school may say that from second year, students usually live in the area near the university whereas for the years 3-5, they live near the hospital they are based at. Your medical school may provide this accommodation or you may have to sort it yourself. Asking this question can give you an idea about the areas where you will be living for a significant portion of your life. It also leads us onto our third question…
Question 3: Where will my clinical placements be?
Most medical schools are attached to a central, city hospital. However, there are often more medical students than spaces available in hospital so students are sent to other hospitals for clinical placements. These areas are not always advertised so ask your medical school about them. If you have your heart set on being in a city centre throughout your time at medical school, then applying to a medical school that could send you to a rural area for a year may not be for you!
Question 4: What will you be looking for in my UCAS application?
Asking this question allows you to find out exactly what the medical school are after. Discuss what they are looking for in addition to the mandatory A-level grades. What sort of student are they looking for? The answer to this question can help you form your personal statement and demonstrate why you are the type of student this medical school is looking for.
Question 5: Have you enjoyed your time here?
Perhaps the most important question. You should ask this question to the medical students who will often be helping out on the day. Asking such an open question will help you gain an honest answer from the students. They will likely to be enthusiastic about their medical school to be working on an open day, but you can find out exactly why they like this medical school in particular.